Easter & the benefits of chocolate

April is associated with Easter and while Easter has a bigger meaning in the religious sense we all indulge in a little chocolate as the Easter Bunny pays us a visit.

But let’s take the guilty hat off and equip ourselves with a little knowledge. Simply, knowing what chocolate to choose we could actually be helping and not hindering our body.

We are not talking about the junk chocolate in candy bars and sweet desserts, we are talking about dark chocolate and it’s long history of the healing plant as a mood enhancer and even an aphrodisiac. The Latin name for chocolate “Theobroma Cacao”. The Latin name for chocolate means “food of the gods”. The major health benefits of chocolate, means you can take control of your biology in a delicious way!

1. Chocolate helps the brain

Chocolate enhances your mood especially in high stress situations by releasing the “happiness neurotransmitters” serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Overall you have better cognitive performance and less mental fatigue.

2. Chocolate makes you eat less

Yay for that! One study quantified this by giving participants 100g serving of dark chocolate, two hours before a main meal correlated in a 17% lower calorie intake in the following meal.

3. Chocolate for a healthy heart

Polyphenols in cacao increase HDL cholesterol (the protective cholesterol) which in turn leads to decreased oxidised LDL cholesterol. Other effects include improved circulation.

4. Chocolate for glowing skin and sun protection 

Chocolate can help you maintain healthy skin by maintaining healthy blood flow and studies showed that people consuming a high flavanol in cacao powder for 12 weeks had on average a 25% reduction in a UV induced erythema (sunburn) after exposure to a solar stimulator. They also recorded increased density and thickness, as well as better hydration and trans epidermal water loss.

5. Chocolate may lower inflammation

Chocolate has inflammation modulating properties. Study of obese mice supplemented with cacao powder had healthier levels of inflammation and insulin.

6. Chocolate is a prebiotic

If gut bacteria is feeding on larger cocoa polyphenols, then it can change the composition of the microbiome. One study showed the beneficial prebiotic effect of consumption of chocolate and subjects showed a significant

increase in bifidobacterial and lactobacilli population and as well as a significant decreased clostridia levels.

7. Chocolate for anti-aging

Cacao can enhance mitochondrial biogenesis, or a creation of new mitochondria. It is the flavanol epicatechin in chocolate that is responsible for mitogenesis.

We all love chocolate and my go to is always Pana chocolate. It’s raw and full of goodness. Best of all a square or two satisfies me. Indulge without the overindulge. If you have any questions that you are unsure about, I am in clinic Thursday to Saturdays and would love to meet you! 

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